16 April 2018

Malawi Parliament Demands Better Tobacco Classification System

Parliament's Agriculture committee has asked the Tobacco Control Commission (TCC) to change its tobacco classification system, saying the current system does not favour a tobacco grower.

The committee chair Chidanti Malunga said better tobacco prices depend on the tobacco classification, arguing the current classification system leaves a lot to be desired.

He said this on Saturday when committee members visited the Kanengo Auction Floors, hit by low tobacco prices since President Peter Mutharika opened the floors last week.

"Tobacco needs to be given a correct grade so that it fetches a lot of money but the current system is far from it," he said.

He welcomed the tobacco bill which is expected to be tabled in parliament next month, saying a law in tobacco would improve the growing and selling of tobacco in the country.

Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama) chief executive officer Mathews Zulu said tobacco growers should avoid non tobacco items in tobacco bales.

"These materials cause tobacco rejections and bring down the prices," said Zulu.

He said the fact that tobacco production was down by 13 per cent is not an automatic factor that the tobacco prices would be up because the demand would be higher than supply.

Zulu said there was need for better leaf on the market and improvement on tobacco grading for the leaf to fetch good prices.

There is 147 million kilograms of tobacco this year on the market against the market demand of 171 million kilograms.

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